The New Me

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In recovery right after my surgery. 

“I am me, I am complete,” I say as I try to wake up after hours of surgery. I’m in a room I don’t recognize with Megan by my side. I was still feeling the effects of anaesthesia. I finally have a vagina! I can’t believe it.

I felt euphoric when I started taking hormones, but there was nothing that could have prepared me for this level of happiness. I looked in the mirror and my body just made sense. It was hard to fall in love with it at first, with two tubes and gauze packing inside, but it was mine.

I spent seven days in hospital and two long months at home recovering from the procedure. The first few days I felt like I left the zipper of my pants open. There was this strange gap between my legs. I was convinced there was some kind of design flaw.

After a few days being closely monitored, it was time to take out the tubes and the packing. I got to see my new body part for the first time. My doctor gave me a handheld mirror. I’ll let the picture speak for itself.

Recovery has been steady.  I’m lucky I haven’t had too many complications.  There have been some hard lessons in “healing isn’t linear.”  There were days I was feeling great, and felt like I could have walked across the country.  There were also days I wasn’t registering above 400 steps a day on my Fitbit.  For someone who enjoys being active, this about killed my soul.  I did get in some great books and watched a lot of Netflix.

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Smiling with my surgeon at a post-op appointment. I’m so grateful for him, I am finally free to be me! 

The most unexpected difficulty of recovery has been the phantom pains.  I hear it’s common with people who have an arm or foot removed.  Weeks later, I still feel like I’ve been kicked in the scrotum.  The nerve pain can leave me doubled over and breathless at times.  I also have felt like my penis is going to unravel from inside of me.  Of course, none of those parts exist anymore.  My nerves are still re-growing and they’re figuring out their new reality.  It’s also been weird re-learning how to pee. There were a few times I hit the wall, as I figured out how to tilt my pelvis in the right direction.  I have to constantly remind myself to give myself a break. I went through a big procedure and I just need time to heal. I know it was totally worth it.

This surgery has given me a new found sense of self-confidence and optimism. I’ve spent the last two months becoming the best version of myself. I’ve worked hard for it, and I now feel I can conquer anything.

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Our niece visiting in hospital. She brought me an “It’s a Girl” balloon!

I’m grateful I’ve had the time to better understand my new body.  I’ve struggled with dysphoria for so long, I’m not used to looking at myself in the mirror and having my mind and body aligned.  I can now lay on my bed, naked, and just appreciate what I’ve been given.  I’m so at peace with myself.

I’m so lucky I’ve had tremendous support from my friends and family these last few months. I thoroughly enjoyed the cards, the visits and the online chats. It’s what really kept me going. I’m so grateful for our community who has loved and supported Megan and I through this process.

I’m looking forward to many more days wearing leggings without worry. Yoga class will never be the same. Who knows, maybe I’ll splurge on a new bikini this summer? The possibilities are endless as the new me emerges.

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